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Old 03.11.2011, 19:31
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Yet another car import question...

Hi all,
My wife and I are about to move to the Zurich area from London and this forum has proved invaluable so far.

Much to our bewilderment, the most taxing part of planning our move has been the car.. I've had a long trawl through the various related threads on here so feel pretty well informed but it would be great to get some specific advice.

Essentially our plan is to drive over with a load of our stuff (and wait for the removal van to ship over the rest when we've found a permanent place to live) so we'd like to have a car from day 1. We also want to have a car there for the first month when we're looking for flats, buying furniture, etc. The options seem to be two-fold:

1. Drive over my UK car and keep it running in Switzerland either indefinintely (or rather until it conks out) or until we find a Swiss car to buy. From reading this site, there seems to be a number of problems with this (LH drive, re-registration, head light changes, etc). The insurance will also be a real pain since I'll be relinquishing my UK residency so my UK insurance (plus the 60 days European cover) drops away. That said I've owned it for a while so import tax wouldn’t be an issue.

2. Buy a second hand car in CH/France/Germany (or even the UK (we've found LH drive cars for sale)) before we move out to CH, drive it back to the UK, pack it up with all our stuff and then drive it down to CH. I realise if we don't buy it in CH we'll still need to register it, pay import tax, etc but at least we won't have to deal with the problems of the steering wheel being on the wrong side and head light conversion.

The problem in going down route 2 and buying in CH seems to be (from exploring auto scout, etc) that cars are incredibly expensive in CH plus have enormous numbers of miles on them. Conversely if we buy the car in Germany or France there seems to be problems with the fact we're not resident there, temporary insurance for when we drive it back to the UK and down to CH, etc.

So, having waffled on, my questions seems to be does anyone have experience of buying a second hand car outside of CH before importing it and what problems did they encounter? The situation is probaly slightly more complicated due to the fact I'd take the car back to the UK first before importing it into CH. Or would anyone in fact recommend going down route 1?

Apologies in advance for the epic length of the query and thanks in advance for any help!

Tom
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Old 03.11.2011, 19:43
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Re: Yet another car import question...

I have simplified what I think are the best options:

1. Drive over my UK car and keep until we find a Swiss car to buy, then dispose of UK car.

2. Import one once you have settled hear and dispose of UK car.

Hope that helps.
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Old 03.11.2011, 22:03
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Re: Yet another car import question...

Best option drive over your stuff in your car, drive it back later and sell it. Then buy a Car in CH and save all the hassles.
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Old 03.11.2011, 22:45
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Re: Yet another car import question...

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Best option drive over your stuff in your car, drive it back later and sell it. Then buy a Car in CH and save all the hassles.
I second that idea

Or just sell the car in the UK, ship all your worldly goods over in a truck, and buy a car here

You can buy 2nd hand cars for <5000 CHFs easily. Fully Swiss compliant, no hassles.
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Old 03.11.2011, 22:51
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Re: Yet another car import question...

do you have a relative that you could use a mail address, I got a 365 day green card, as my car is leased so I have to take it back in April, but you need a notional address in the UK.
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Old 03.11.2011, 23:34
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We decided to drive our car from London, import and keep it here. The hassle of importing offset the hassle of selling and re-buying here or having a period without a car. The cost of import was justified by the price we would have got for the car in the UK versus the cost of acquiring a comparable car here (we specifically require a car large enough for bikes etc). And we thought we might only be here for a year or two, although that is turning out to be longer. Leaning over the passenger sear to get carpark tickets doesn't bother me.

So you really need to thing about what is important to you, whats right for one isn't necessarily right for another.
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Old 04.11.2011, 00:02
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Re: Yet another car import question...

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We decided to drive our car from London, import and keep it here. The hassle of importing offset the hassle of selling and re-buying here or having a period without a car. The cost of import was justified by the price we would have got for the car in the UK versus the cost of acquiring a comparable car here (we specifically require a car large enough for bikes etc). And we thought we might only be here for a year or two, although that is turning out to be longer. Leaning over the passenger sear to get carpark tickets doesn't bother me.

So you really need to thing about what is important to you, whats right for one isn't necessarily right for another.
The only issue is that its resale value here as RHD will be virtually non-existent, so its only really an option if you plan to drive it into the ground.
You could of course send it back to the UK, but then you have to go through the rigmarole of re-importing it as a foreign car to the UK (you shouldn't however have to pay UK Tax and Duty as you'd be entitled to Returned Goods Relief for VAT and duty relief).
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Old 04.11.2011, 00:03
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Re: Yet another car import question...

Not sure when you plan to more, but if you have the car for more than 6 month, before you move, then you don't have to pay importation tax.

If your not planning to be here more than 2 years, there is a sneaky workaround. You can get from the Zollamt a document that will allow you to drive around in Switzerland legally for 1 year before having to register the car for importation. You can keep your UK insurance as well. Can't remember the form. When the year is almost up, go back to the zollamt and tell them you want to import the car. THey give you the new importation documents with the current date on it. Vekhrsamt are only interested in that date so you have an additional year.

I did this as I had a leasing car but decided to buy out the lease and tried to rush everything before the first year is up... Only for the guy at the Vekhrsamt to tell me not to worry as for him, the clock starts from the date of the importation document....
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Old 04.11.2011, 11:14
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Re: Yet another car import question...

Thanks so much all.

It looks like the best approach will be to drive down the UK car and keep it on English plates for 12mths whilst we look for a CH car. If it looks like we're going to keep it after that 12mths I can deal with the importing/re-registration then (I've had it for a few years so no import tax to pay). Otherwise, we'll buy a CH car and I'll drive the UK car back to the UK to sell it.
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Old 04.11.2011, 11:23
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Re: Yet another car import question...

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You can get from the Zollamt a document that will allow you to drive around in Switzerland legally for 1 year before having to register the car for importation. You can keep your UK insurance as well
Re the UK insurance does that work if I become a Swiss resident? When I spoke to my insurance company they said that the insurance was only valid if I was resident in the UK (that said, I'll be keeping a flat in London so will have a UK address). Just conscious that insurers will use any excuse not to pay out so I don't want a nasty surprise if I come to make a claim...
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Old 04.11.2011, 11:54
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Re: Yet another car import question...

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Re the UK insurance does that work if I become a Swiss resident? When I spoke to my insurance company they said that the insurance was only valid if I was resident in the UK (that said, I'll be keeping a flat in London so will have a UK address). Just conscious that insurers will use any excuse not to pay out so I don't want a nasty surprise if I come to make a claim...
No the insurance on green card"ed" countries is specifically tied to the domicile address. Some green card Insurances from say the UK will cover one abroad for a period but they are specialist and you must confirm that you will no longer be a UK resident.

Using a friend or relative's address or trying to find a work around is NOT A GOOD IDEA!!! You will also find the insurance on the temporary solution pre / year of import highly complicated...
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Old 04.11.2011, 13:51
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Re: Yet another car import question...

Hi Tom

There is an insurance company in Wales that will do you insurance on a Swiss address. We brought 2 UK cars over last year and got insurance on both using Stuart Collins and Co. PM me for the address and phone number if you want to go that route. Watch out for keeping the car taxed for the year and alsofor when your MOT runs out. We ended up taking a car back with us one Christmas to have it MOT'ed so it was still under UK insurance.

Also, I would suggest if you are bringing your car over from the Uk with the intention of importing it when the year is up that you have a garage in the Uk put left hand drive headlights in before you leave. Much cheaper than doing it in Switzerland. Make sure you take the headlight stickers you need for driving in the UK with a left hand drive car with you when you go to collect it and you will probably have to convince them / explain to them that yes it is legal to have the car that way for driving in the UK as lots of foreign cars do it every year! Just don't try and get an MOT with them in - do that before if needed and if you need an MOT part way through the year the garage will need UK headlights to put in for the MOT and then take out after the MOT. We found a smaller Ford dealer was much more clued up (or cared less) than the main dealers when we arranged all this.

If you have space and depending on the time of year you are coming over, arrange winter tires for the journey or to bring with you - also much cheaper in the UK if an unusual request for a tyre fitter to cope with - watch out for the leadtime for ordering.

Hope that helps
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Old 04.11.2011, 16:06
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Re: Yet another car import question...

Stuart Collins Insurance will cover you for 12months but you'll need a UK address to start the cover and receive the paperwork. I used them and they were fine. SO do it before you leave or you will have a hard time getting cover once you are here.

http://www.stuartcollins.com/

Last edited by kevlegs; 04.11.2011 at 16:30.
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Old 04.11.2011, 16:18
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Re: Yet another car import question...

this has been covered many many times before

in a nut shell

if you are not uk resident then its almost impossible to get insurance - yes you can lie to the insurance company, its a gamble, if it goes titsup then you'll be in huge bother here.

you can import your car, had it longer then 6 months? then no import duty to pay, just get it an mfk (a swiss mot only 10x stricter) some people have got there car through no issues at all, others have had to pay many thousands of chf to pass.

buy a car here - by far the easiest route, have a look on the for sale section here, quite a few half decent motors up for grabs last time I looked or have a search on autoscout,ch

if you bring your uk car here then it has to be fully uk legal ALL THE TIME, so you must have valid uk road tax, insurance and mot (please don't listen to the handful of people on here who will tell you otherwise, they really have no idea what they are talking about)
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Old 04.11.2011, 17:50
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Re: Yet another car import question...

+1 for BB2 and the Saint's posts.

If your car is something special (whatever that means to you) bring it, but get things like headlights/fog/reverse lights sorted in the UK before you come over you'll save a fortune. Then you have 12 months to register it here, which may or may not be a can of worms. The insurance may cost more as if it's a right hooker, car park with barriers are a PITA (unless you have a passenger) and overtaking can be an interesting experience, and it will have less value that a Greek government bond if you try and sell it, but if your car is special it may be worth it.

If it's a run of the mill buggy, sell it and get one here, pay more certainly, but for the, expense, stress and aggro' saved.... priceless
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Old 04.11.2011, 18:13
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Re: Yet another car import question...

Thanks again all.

I didn't know that insurance, MOT and road tax needed to remain in place so thanks for the heads-up.

Stuart Collins seem to be able to offer insurance on the car even though I'll be moving over the Switzerland which will save the problem of having two policies in place.
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Old 05.11.2011, 15:36
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You don't need uk insurance or road tax after the car is formally exported from the uk, just to be absolutely clear. Obviously if you then re-import it back to the uk you need those things.
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Old 05.11.2011, 15:49
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Re: Yet another car import question...

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You don't need uk insurance or road tax after the car is formally exported from the uk, just to be absolutely clear.
Happy to be proved wrong, but I think that is tosh. AFAIK the car must be legal in it's country of origin until it's on Swiss plates or removed for CH. Insurance can be correctly obtained with some difficulty but not impossibly from the UK or here, but a UK plated car RFL & MOT must be valid.
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Old 05.11.2011, 15:56
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OK I wasn't accurate enough in specifying both import and swiss registration; when I said formally exported I meant the whole process completed ie with Swiss plates, which of course is actually 2 steps. I have a letter from DVLA export division confirming that they have closed the file on my car now they have proof of export and uk road tax is no longer required.

(I'm only saying this because bb2's post sounded like you would have to keep paying uk road tax etc forever, which of course is not the case when the car is completely swissified)

Last edited by woolly; 05.11.2011 at 16:09.
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Old 05.11.2011, 21:11
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Re: Yet another car import question...

Hi Tom

I making the same thoughts as you , but the other way round as I have planned moving over to the UK and taking my swiss car with me.

I have noticed that more and more cars from the EU with their different EU plates are in Switzerland and they are not changing their plates and it seems no ones cares really. In my road is one german lady she is here with her german plate car since a couple of months or more then a year. In Weil am Rhein /Germany just over the boarder are more and more british cars seen.
As I know the law says you can drive anyway minimum 12 months in Switzerland without changing the plate. If your car is 3 month not in Switzerland I think you can even extend this , but check again.

If I were you or me in the UK , I would do the following:

1.If the car is already older (more then 10 years old for ex. ) I would drive it at least for another year , always paying the motor tax and the insurance of course, in the meantime checking for a new car.
2. If the car is newer or you just want to keep it, then I would go after one year through the Motorfahrzeugkontrolle (MOT in Switzerland) after the check you will get the new swiss plate. You shouldn't have to pay import tax, but check this also.

I just have noticed if the wheel is on the "wrong side" it is tyring to get the tickets of parking houses if the arm is not enough long. So in my case I can't enter in England in parking houses with barrier/Ticket system.
In Switzerland we have much more such parking houses with barriers, so I hope your arms are long enough.....

I hope I could give an idea...



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Hi all,
My wife and I are about to move to the Zurich area from London and this forum has proved invaluable so far.

Much to our bewilderment, the most taxing part of planning our move has been the car.. I've had a long trawl through the various related threads on here so feel pretty well informed but it would be great to get some specific advice.

Essentially our plan is to drive over with a load of our stuff (and wait for the removal van to ship over the rest when we've found a permanent place to live) so we'd like to have a car from day 1. We also want to have a car there for the first month when we're looking for flats, buying furniture, etc. The options seem to be two-fold:

1. Drive over my UK car and keep it running in Switzerland either indefinintely (or rather until it conks out) or until we find a Swiss car to buy. From reading this site, there seems to be a number of problems with this (LH drive, re-registration, head light changes, etc). The insurance will also be a real pain since I'll be relinquishing my UK residency so my UK insurance (plus the 60 days European cover) drops away. That said I've owned it for a while so import tax wouldn’t be an issue.

2. Buy a second hand car in CH/France/Germany (or even the UK (we've found LH drive cars for sale)) before we move out to CH, drive it back to the UK, pack it up with all our stuff and then drive it down to CH. I realise if we don't buy it in CH we'll still need to register it, pay import tax, etc but at least we won't have to deal with the problems of the steering wheel being on the wrong side and head light conversion.

The problem in going down route 2 and buying in CH seems to be (from exploring auto scout, etc) that cars are incredibly expensive in CH plus have enormous numbers of miles on them. Conversely if we buy the car in Germany or France there seems to be problems with the fact we're not resident there, temporary insurance for when we drive it back to the UK and down to CH, etc.

So, having waffled on, my questions seems to be does anyone have experience of buying a second hand car outside of CH before importing it and what problems did they encounter? The situation is probaly slightly more complicated due to the fact I'd take the car back to the UK first before importing it into CH. Or would anyone in fact recommend going down route 1?

Apologies in advance for the epic length of the query and thanks in advance for any help!

Tom
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